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Why changing your mind is a leader quality

Blair McPherson - former Director, Author and Blogger

The willingness to change your mind is a good quality in a leader as long as they don’t do it too often. Change it too often and you’re a nightmare to work for, never change it and you’re a disaster waiting to happen.

I would complain to my elder statesman colleague on the senior management team about the boss’s  failure to stick to his guns when mangers express doubts about a decision we had arrived at after lengthy discussion. He would reply, ”The battle fields are strewn with the mistakes of generals who refused to change their mind. “

Determination and consistency, staying focused are often described as characteristics of a leader who has overcome  great odds and yet these same characteristics are described as stubborn , inflexible, blinkered in those who don’t triumph.
It would appear first comes success then comes the reevaluation of the person to explain it.

So how does a leader know when to twist and when to stick? It’s not much help but there is no hard and fast answer, which is why leadership can be so tricky.

But it should be obvious that it is not good leadership to simply refuse to change your mind once you have made a decision, what if new information comes to light? However no one is going to be inspired by a leader who constantly changes their mind depending on who they spoke to last.
In my experience it’s not so terrible to get a decision wrong if the reasoning behind the decision stands up to scrutiny. This is a principle I wish more managers would adopt rather than blame people who get it wrong. HR are too often presented with a demand from a manager that we should discipline an individual because they made a decision the manager disagrees with, a decision that has embarrassed the manager or caused the manager to be censored by their boss. These are the same managers who complain that their staff don’t use their initiative!
An effective manager has leadership qualities they inspire their staff and they take responsibility, they understand when to stick to their guns irrespective of the strength of the opposition and yet they are not so arrogant as to think they are always right.

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